€1m to help traditional crafts cross the generation gap


Brewers, bakers and jenever makers are among the artisans benefitting from a series of grants that will allow them to pass on their crafts to a new generation

Keeping heritage alive

A Flemish government scheme set up to help crafts pass from one generation to the next has announced its first round of awards. Grants totalling €1 million have been given to 27 craftspeople, from blacksmiths to tailors and from brewers to puppeteers.

The scheme responds to a renewed interest in craftsmanship as cultural heritage, and attempts to make traditional crafts hip again, according to Flemish culture minister Sven Gatz (pictured). “The grants allow craftspeople to work intensively with someone who wants to learn from them, for a few months or up to two years. Both teacher and student receive part of the grant, up to a total of €2,000 per month,” he explained, announcing the grants on Thursday.

Some of the crafts are tangible, such as ceramics, bookbinding and making musical instruments. Others appeal to the senses, such as baking and brewing, or storytelling and clowning. All are crafts with a long and rich history in Flanders but which are now either undervalued or threatened with disappearance. The scheme was also open to crafts more recently arrived in Flanders.

One of the biggest groups to receive funding involves the Club Zaghareed, in which voice artist Myriam Van Imschoot will teach six pupils about the collective and intercultural practice of ululation, as practised in various Middle Eastern societies. Afghan weaver Nadia Mohmand also receives a grant to pass on her craft.

Large groups will also be led by silversmith Patrick Storme and baker Marc Van Eeckhout, each funded to take on four pupils. Other groups will be smaller, with some craftspeople working one-to-one. These include sculptor Luc Van Soom, jenever maker Jan Kempeneers and clown Marc Pauwels.

A full list of the grants is available from Gatz’s website.